Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire, often shortened to Super Millionaire, is a spin-off to the American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. This series, as with the original primetime series, is hosted by Regis Philbin.
The first five episodes of Super Millionaire aired on ABC during the week of February 22, 2004. It returned for seven additional episodes in May. Those episodes were seen in reruns on the GSN cable network.
Like the original ABC primetime version of Millionaire, contestants qualify by a toll-free telephone game rather than contestant auditions. Players are presented with five Fastest Finger questions to answer using a telephone keypad. Players who answer all five questions correctly are added into the contestant pool. Ten players are randomly selected from the pool for each show to compete as Fastest Finger players.
Gameplay is similar to the traditional Millionaire - contestants answer a series of 15 multiple choice trivia questions and the amounts are not cumulative. However, in this version, the dollar values are higher. The board went as follows:
|Amount Lost if|
The amounts in bold are guarantee amounts, where the contestant cannot leave the game with less than that value of winnings.
Contestants are given the standard three lifelines (50:50, Ask the Audience, and Phone a Friend) at the beginning of the game. After the $100,000 question, however, the contestant earns two additional lifelines. One is the "Three Wise Men," where a panel of three experts (one of whom is a former Millionaire contestant, and at least one of whom is a female) deliberate and provide an answer within 30 seconds. The other lifeline, "Double Dip," gives the contestant two chances to answer the question; however, the contestant cannot back away from the question if he or she chooses that lifeline, nor can any other lifelines be used. If neither guess is correct, the player leaves with only $100,000. The Double Dip lifeline later returns in the new seventh season, but is available for the entire game (the 50:50 lifeline has been eliminated).
Though it never occurred, it was a possibility (and numerous contestants mentioned it, along with Philbin) that a contestant could save their "50:50" lifeline and use it beyond the $100,000 milestone in conjunction with the "Double Dip" lifeline to achieve a "no lose scenario" for any question above $100,000. For example, if a contestant used the 50:50 lifeline, the contestant would have 2 choices left, and then if they still did not know the answer to the question they could resort to the Double Dip lifeline, giving them the opportunity to guess twice, without the possibility of guessing the wrong answer.
On this version of Millionaire, as Philbin always mentioned, the risks are much more extreme. (At the time of Super Millionaire's airing, no one on any version of the US show had answered the $1 million question incorrectly, although several other countries had indeed witnessed these devastating losses. It wasn't until 5 years later that Ken Basin would become the first American contestant to miss the $1,000,000 question during the final episode of 2009's 10th Anniversary primetime revival of Millionaire.)
The Double Dip lifeline returned in Season 7 of the syndicated Millionaire and the 50:50 lifeline was eliminated. In addition, the "Switch the Question" lifeline was also eliminated and replaced with a new lifeline called "Ask the Expert," a modification of the Three Wise Men lifeline in Super Millionaire.
Robert "Bob-O" EssigEdit
Super Millionaire produced only one millionaire, Robert "Bob-O" Essig, in February 2004. He answered 12 questions to win $1,000,000, but left the game before reaching the $10,000,000 top prize. According to Philbin, Bob-O was the first contestant ever to (jokingly) threaten a Phone-A-Friend contact, saying, "All right. I'm gonna trust you, Dad. If you're wrong, you lose $400,000."
- Bob-O's Million Dollar Question: (used the Double Dip lifeline on the question)
|$1 Million (12 of 15) - No Time Limit|
|What scientist first determined that human sight results from images projected onto the retina?|
|• A: Galileo||• B: Copernicus|
|• C: Johannes Kepler||• D: Issac Newton|